Friday, April 29, 2016

The British Surrender at Kut, April 29, 1916.

 Indian POW after the surrender at Kut.

Besieged British forces at Kut, Mesopotamia, surrendered to the Ottomans in a major British defeat in the Middle East.

Kut was a British strategic disaster, although in the history of the Great War its somewhat forgotten except by those who study the war in the Middle East.  An operation controlled by the Indian Army, rather than the British Army (a confusing distinction for those not too familiar, and even those who are, with the distinction made in the case of British administered India) the concept was to have moved up the Euphrates into Mesopotamia (Iraq) and basically cut the Ottoman's off from the balance of their Middle Eastern empire.  The operation was successful at first but outstretched its supply lines and had to fall back to Kut.  At Kut a force that was then about 11,000 men were put under siege by the Ottomans.  The commanding British officer recommended a withdrawal from Kut but was denied permission as there was conceived to be a value in tying down Ottoman forces.  When the same commander misreported ration reserves a rescue attempt was mounted, but it failed.  No attempt by the garrison itself to withdraw overland was made.

The British later attempted to parole the force in Kut, an age old military practice which is misinterpreted in regards to the effort as the offer of a bribe, and even T. E. Lawrence was involved in the effort, showing to what extent he'd rising in importance already.  The Ottomans rejected the offer and the surrender of the remaining 8,000 troops was made on this day.

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